Columnist calls for national unity

Columnist calls for national unity
In today's divided nation, we forget who the real enemy is, syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas said Wednesday at The University of South Dakota.

The United States truly needs to become united to meet the threat of terrorism, Thomas said. Instead, Americans remain mired in partisanship, he said.

"The 'other side' is the Taliban who wants to destroy our way of life," he said. "My fellow Americans are not my 'other side.' The idea that the other side is destroying America is harmful to the political process."


Few Washington politicians have social relationships, which promotes partisanship, Thomas said. "If you are ever seen in the company of the party of the other persuasion, it's on YouTube" and portrayed as traitorous, he said.

Such divisiveness can undermine national security, Thomas said, as the stakes are higher than at any other time in U.S. history.

"We are in a world war (on terror) that is more dangerous than any other. It's more than ideological," he said, noting the intent of radical Islam to destroy the West. "If it wasn't Iraq, it would have been somewhere else."

Thomas criticized Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy views. Obama is "naive" in his approach to Iran and North Korea, "and Hillary wants (the presidency) so badly that she will change her principles," Thomas said.

The Democratic candidates' call for withdrawal from Iraq would undermine the war on terror, Thomas said.

"Democrats refuse to realize we are winning," he said, adding that an immediate withdrawal of troops would be a waste of "all the blood and dollars" spent on the war.

While Thomas criticized Obama and Clinton, he said that he has good relationships with Democrats. He pointed to his friendship with 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern of South Dakota.

"There is a difference between partisanship and polarization," he said. "Partisanship is OK, while polarization corrodes the conversation."

Spirited debate has its place, Thomas said. "We need to compromise without compromising our principles," he said.

The public shouldn't put blind trust into politicians, Thomas said. "I don't trust any of them. The only politicians in Washington with any convictions are the ones in prison," he said.

Thomas called the presidential run "a transforming race" with "an unbelievable dynamic" and no clear idea of how it will end.

"We could have the first woman president, whose husband was president for eight years," he said of Clinton. "She seemed inevitable. Then all of a sudden, she didn't seem so inevitable. Then she wins Ohio and Texas (in Tuesday's primaries), and maybe it is inevitable."

Clinton would need to win the remaining 12 states by a 59-41 percent margin to make up major ground, Thomas said. She would win 360 delegates to Obama's 251, "but it's unlikely she would win 59 percent," he said.

Both candidates appear unable to win the required number of delegates for the nomination, Thomas said. That would leave the "superdelegates," or party officials, with the decisive votes, he said.

"(Superdelegates) are now the powerbrokers who will determine the Democratic nominee," he said. "If they reverse the will of the people, what do you think that will do?"

The Florida and Michigan delegates, who would not be seated because those states violated party rules with early elections, would likely come into play, Thomas said.

"They went to Feb. 4 to have more impact," he said of the two states. "Now, if they had waited until March 4, they really would have had influence."

Thomas said he supports neither Democratic candidate. "I support a minority or female, just not this minority or female. … It's not about race or gender, it's about ideas," he said.

The groundswell of young people joining the Obama campaign will likely become conservative as they enter the workforce and see the impact of rising taxes, Thomas said.

Obama offers the theme of "hope" with no clear plan, Thomas said. "Obama is selling snake oil," he said.

Turning to the Republicans, Thomas noted a divide within the conservative wing.

"In the late '70s, there was a shotgun wedding between social and economic conservatives," he said. "Now, their relations are strained, and both wings of the party are considering a separation, if not a divorce, because of irreconcilable differences."

The Republicans watered down their principles after the 1994 election and are now behaving like Democrats, Thomas said.

As a result, voters turned out the GOP majority in the 2006 elections, he said.

The 2006 elections weren't approval of Democrats or a referendum on Iraq, Thomas said. "Instead, (voters) were punishing the Republicans for not living up to their promises and ideals," he said.

Washington must end its reckless spending habits, he said.

"There is a commandment against stealing. But when the government does it, it's called taxes," he said.

"And the stimulus is a joke," he said of the checks being sent to citizens. "The dollars are borrowed from China, so that we go to Wal-Mart and buy goods that were brought from China. Does that help our economy? I don't think so."

Thomas noted the escalating cost of health care for the 12-15 million illegal aliens in the United States.

Conservatives who support tighter borders are unfairly attacked, Thomas said. Not only is illegal immigration a matter of national security, but the 50 million babies aborted since 1973 would have filled the workforce.

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